As someone who still has old 1970s classic hi-fi equipment sitting next to my consoles and TV, it is only expected to hear I love a good pair of open-backed headphones. I love the audio landscape they offer and enjoy how they sound as I dive into a complex piece of music, but it is not something you can easily find in home headphones despite the audio you get from that design. This is where the Audeze LCD-1 comes into play. These open-back portable headphones strike a refreshing balance between studio and home quality, and are an easy pair to recommend to anyone looking to up their audio listening game.
Audeze has a history of making studio level professional audio gear, and it shows with the LCD-1. These are a stunning pair of cans that are comfortable and truly sound fantastic. The simple foldable design and lightweight feel make them easy to take on the go, while their audio quality will make them the go-to option for anyone listening or working on a new track in the studio.
The fit is snug without being uncomfortable. The memory foam in and leatherette ear cups are comfortable for even long listening sessions, while offering enough air to breath and avoid discomfort. The memory foam on the band keeps them in place while on the go or at the desk and the overall lightweight 250g design makes them an easy choice for when you need to get work done and can’t afford to take a break due to discomfort or an overall bad design.
Inside, you will find Audeze’s 90mm Planar Magnetic drivers that, on paper, are said to deliver frequencies from 10Hz up to 50kHz with flawless clarity with patented Fluxor magnets and Uniforce voice coil that is reported to deliver distortion-free audio, and in testing these reports all true. These are some of the best sounding headphones I have used. While it does lack audio processing found in many more mainstream options, the LCD-1 sound far better than I was expecting and deliver some of the best sound I have ever heard south of $800
At first glance it may be hard to come to terms with the $550 CAD price point LCD-1’s, especially looking at the saturated headphone market, but it is in the clarity, precision and craftsmanship that goes into each pair that makes the LCD-1 something special. These are not pumped out of an assembly line; these are handcrafted in Audeze’s factory in California. Each pair sold are put though testing to ensure they meet a level of quality, something few headphones can boast these days.
In the box you will find the travel case, the headphones, and a 2 m-long 3.5 mm to dual 3.5 mm cable along with a 6.3 mm adapter. So right out of the gate the LCD-1’s are ready for any device that offers a headphone jack, but as with any headphones of this quality, you will want to feed it the best files possible, as if you only feed it low quality audio, that is all these headphones can deliver. With a good DAC, quality files, the Audeze LCD-1’s truly shine, and show how good quality built audio products can sound.
There is one thing to have audio processing and there is another to hear a clear, quality built soundscape, and the Audeze LCD-1 deliver on the latter in spades. Audio, provided the resolution is there, sounds truly fantastic on these headphones. The open-back design allows for a truly immersive soundstage that will wash over you, plunging you into a world of music, instruments and vocals.
Listening for around three weeks now, and it is evident that Audeze takes the attention to quality and their pro market to heart. The balance and depth of the sound the LCD-1’s manage is fantastic and rich. Bass is clear and impactful, with all the frequencies working in tandem rather than against each other to make a blanket of sound that envelops the listening rather than overpowering them.
It is so easy to crank the bass, have good enough drivers and call it a day. This is the mandate of many trendy audio brands, yet it is this attention to detail, and a drive to build an EQ that delivers the promise of quality audio without distorting the original sound or creator’s intent. The LCD-1 offers audio delivery made for professionals, clear, quality and pure, ready for the studio, yet available at home should you want to embrace it.
This balance does come at a price though. Built for a studio-like audio environment, the LCD-1’s do not have the impact or energy you could find from other brands. While I am personally a fan of this, giving a more “true to intent” audio feel, for many they could sound a bit lacking, although this depends on what you crave from your audio, and is very much a personal preference. Especially if you don’t need that studio audio feel and at the $550 CAD price point, the LCD-1’s may not be the audio option for everyone.
There is a lot to like with the Audeze LCD-1. From audio soundscape to the build quality, these are some of the best sub $600 I have ever tested. With the balanced sound, quality audio comes to live as you dive into any genre of music, giving it new depth you may not have thought possible. Portable, and expertly crafted, if you are looking for amazing audio, and a finely tuned listening experience, the Audeze LCD-1 will not disappoint.